ACEP has received a number of inquiries regarding where individual emergency physicians can get vaccinated. Each state was allocated a certain amount of the Pfizer and/or Moderna vaccines. The authority for distributing the vaccine lies with the state/territory/tribal health department or equivalent.
While guidelines were created by the CDC based on input from multiple stakeholders, the states/territories/tribal nations have significant freedom in determining their own distribution strategies and priorities. Most have delegated the authority for distribution to their local health departments. In some cases, the vaccine was distributed to hospitals, that again, were given guidelines but could distribute their allotment as they deemed appropriate.
ACEP has provided input into the initial guidelines about the importance of all emergency physicians, engaged in patient care, to be in the Phase 1A allocation. We have had ongoing meeting with the CDC to discuss vaccine distribution issues also released multiple statements regarding the importance of including all emergency physicians in Phase 1A including locums and contractors. (ACEP statements can be found here and here).
We have seen issues with some counties/hospitals receiving no vaccine, issues with contracted physicians being denied the vaccine by the hospital where they work, and other concerning behaviors. We understand your frustration but are hopeful that the next few weeks will improve the flow of vaccine.
If you are in the Phase 1A group, and you want to get vaccinated, we suggest you contact your local health department or visit your state health department website. Texas, for example, has established a site that shows where the vaccines have been allocated. You may also have some success with contacting pharmacies directly, as some are keeping a list of priority patients. Be prepared to receive less than 24-hour notice that you have an appointment.
Here are some websites that may help you find the contact information for local health departments:
- Health Department Directories (CDC)
- State Epidemiologist Phone Numbers (Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists - CSTE)
- Directory of Local Health Departments (National Association of County and City Health Officials - NACCHO)
If you are not actively practicing, unfortunately you will have to wait until your state determines what phase includes you. In most states, "other healthcare workers" are in Phase 1B, and should receive the vaccine within the next few weeks.
In summary, ACEP has spoken strongly in support of all emergency physicians to be a priority for vaccination, but the state health department is the one with the authority to determine the distribution strategy. We will also work with the ACEP state chapters to ensure that you know who to contact within your local health department to receive important vaccine information.